The Feelies wrapped up a weekend at Rough Trade NYC with a final performance as bustling and determined as though it was their first. In a two-act show, the Haledon, NJ group celebrated four decades of music, and the six studio albums which came of them. In Between, released this past February, continues a journey embarked upon by their penultimate album, Here Today. Both in studio and concert, In Between is rhythmically replete, buoyant in beat, with the acoustic fragrance of The Good Earth lingering in its sails. This made for pleasing, yet palpable live transitions between both albums (for instance, from the jangling, wispy “On the Roof” to the steady yet upbeat trot of “In Between.”) For some fans, there is an emotional conflict that comes with moving from one song to the next after being wholly transfixed by the first. This state could be summed up by one audience member who cried “play that song again!” after the last chords of “Higher Ground,” only to dance headlong into the next song’s opening lines.
With forty years beneath their ever-outstretched wings, the Feelies lead us to wonder, what is the secret to their longevity? The answer may be found, perhaps, in an interview with the band during a period of inactivity from the 1985 documentary “Hoboken Sound.” A young Glenn Mercer admits, “We always said when we started the band that once it wasn’t fun we wouldn’t do it anymore.” In between two career-defining album releases, oblivious to the successes soon to come, Mercer patiently grasped the necessary component of joy—of enjoyment—when it comes to creating. Decades later, this past weekend, the same policy stood. In glowing hindsight of all their achievements, with no presumptions about the future, the Feelies brought fans onto this stop-and-start, yet always onward journey of joy.